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And now for something completely different…

Its been a few weeks since I added to my blog, and I swear there is good reason for that. December and January have been very interesting months for me, culminating in the biggest career move I have made to date. When I started working in the public sector a few years ago, I made to date.

When I started working in the public sector a few years ago, I made the decision to leave my life in the private sector to join government with a clear purpose. I wanted to apply my abilities and knowledge to make a positive impact on the lives of my fellow citizens. I wanted the ability, and the authority to leverage technology to positively change the way the government does its business, improving services and processes, saving costs, and providing new channels and services to the citizens. I was fortunate to be offered to join the District of Columbia OCFO, as the Deputy CIO, a position with the authority and visibility to do just that. Still, I deliberated about the decision to join the DC OCFO very thoroughly and carefully. I validated my assumptions and aspirations. My analysis showed me that it was the right choice to make, and in retrospect, it has been one of the best decisions I have every made in my career and in my adult life.

Working at DC over the last few years has been one of the most challenging, and the most rewarding experience of my life. I have had the opportunity to work along side some of the most remarkable public servants. I have seen my colleagues and peers work hard and apply their passions and dedication to make a difference in the lives of the taxpayers of the District every day. I also learned how difficult it is to bring about fundamental change in the business of government. I experienced the challenges related to technology, policy, process and politics involved in the day to day operations of government. I also learned that despite the challenges and difficulties, there are many hard working and motivated public servants who try their best every day anyway, in the face of apparently insurmountable odds; And that if you are courageous enough to challenge the status quo, you will find allies in unlikely places.

I also got a chance to geek out in some really cool ways on a shoestring budget. I helped introduce many modern technology paradigms and platforms within my organization, including:

  1. A fundamental security re-architecture of the network improving performance and security while reducing costs.
  2. Relocation of over 1200 employees to a new facility to save significant costs for the government
  3. Enabling end users to work from anywhere using mobile technologies and profiles
  4. Introduction of mobile platforms and diverse end points including iPhones, iPads, Android devices
  5. Implementation and modernization of several legacy back end systems, including the District’s core financial system
  6. Implementing a data management and business intelligence platform to act as the engine driving many transparency, data sharing, dash boards, and performance management initiatives
  7. Implementation of a first of its kind budget transparency dashboard for DC at cfoinfo.dc.gov
  8. Rollout of our first iPhone app allowing citizens and policy makers to have access to the District’s budget and spending data in the palm of their hands
  9. Greening of our data center, leading to up to 70% of our infrastructure running on a tightly managed virtual platform
  10. Implementation of the first large scale cloud based ERP initiative, moving the new core financial system to operate in the cloud
  11. Implementation of a digital workflow platform getting rid of dozens of archaic paper based business processes.
  12. Building a team of rockstars who spend long days, nights and weekends giving their best to the service of the District’s taxpayers.

I am in no way taking credit for all of these initiatives for myself, but I did play a role in making them successful, alongside my team. All of this great work continues.

While all this excitement was going on, I saw a tweet from @caseycoleman (GSA CIO) in June 2010 linking to an exciting vacancy announcement for GSA’s Deputy CIO/CTO. I have admired all the great work Casey and her team have been doing at GSA for a long time. GSA has been at the forefront of doing some amazing things, from the first Cloud Email and Collaboration implementation within Federal government, to establishing and using many new technology and new media initiatives, to setting the stage for all of Federal government in how to procure technology in a more intelligent way, as well as being the Agency carrying the flag on sustainability and green government. Under the leadership of Administrator Martha Johnson and Casey Coleman, the GSA IT community is setting the stage for many great things to come in the public sector. As you can imagine, I was immediately intrigued and interested. So I decided to put my name in the hat, containing, no doubt, many other qualified candidates’ names.

After a long process, the details of which I will spare everyone, and an opportunity to meet and have frank dialogue with many of GSA’s key stakeholders, I am extremely humbled to have been selected for this role. I started in this new role last week. Along the same lines as a similar decision several years ago, I deliberated this decision very carefully. The decision to leave the service of the District was not an easy one. It has been difficult to move on from the company of so many amazing colleagues and the opportunity to serve the community that I love. But in the end, I was convinced that I made the right decision to join the GSA, in light of the the opportunity to work as part of such a fantastic team, under such great leadership, and being part of many exciting and challenging initiatives.

As I hope you can imagine, the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of transition activities. As I transition into my new role at GSA, I will be working hard to make sure that I can add value to a team of extraordinary professionals. I also hope to return to my personal blog more often as things get settled over time.

I wanted to say thanks to all who have wished me well through this transition. I appreciate your kind words and will continue to push the agenda for Govies and Geeks everywhere.


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Alan L. Greenberg

Hi Sonny – Lot’s of success at GSA. Despite the occasional satire I post in my blogs, GSA is a wonderful place to work. During my career there I always found GSA to be well ahead of other agencies – and much of the private sector – in the IT area. Because of the vast clientele served by GSA you will have many challenges and many opportunities to apply your extensive experience. (An editorial comment – In my opinion this acceleration began when Dave Barram was GSA Administrator)

Sonny Hashmi

Thank you Alan. I appreciate your insight. And your point and correction is well taken. It will take me some time to gain the historical perspective. Hope retirement is treating you well 🙂